Czech Air Force Gripen pilots have already started their preparations for patrolling the airspace above the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, reports afbcaslav.cz.
A contingent of five Gripen fighters, pilots, ground personnel, and about 100+ soldiers will participate in this mission. “A team that meets all criteria ranging from perfect health to language skills was selected at the beginning of the year,” Commander Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Pavlík told afbcaslav.cz.
The four month long mission was approved by the Czech parliament last year. The Czech Gripen fighters have previously guarded the Baltic airspace back in 2009 and 2012. They have also guarded Iceland’s airspace in the years 2014, 2015, and 2016.
“This is the sixth international mission of our fighters. For twenty years, we have been continuously guarding the airspace of the Czech Republic. I am confident that we will be able offer effective deployment,” said Major General Petr Hromek, Commander of the Czech Air Force.
According to another news report in rmx.news, NATO has increased its military presence in the Baltic States in the last few years. The Gripen contingent will be based at the Amari military airport in Estonia, as part of the NATO air defence Quick Reaction Alert.
“The Kaliningrad region of Russia is supplied quite intensively with Russian aviation equipment. Because of this, we can expect a higher intensity of Gripen fighter take-offs,” says Pavel Pavlík, head of the Czech Baltic Air Policing mission. He expects the Gripen fighters to monitor the airspace twice a day.
The Czech Republic Baltic Air Policing 2019 will start operations from 1st September 2019.
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